Singer-songwriter and undefeated swingball champion Dani Larkin: I became sensitive to the world around me; maybe we all have

1 Up and at it – what’s your morning routine?

I would love to incorporate morning movement into my daily life, but most of the time I light a candle, incense and get moving to start the day. It changes depending on tour times, but when I’m home I like a quiet morning with a good coffee. I’ll go downstairs, put on a record and start making breakfast. I’ll also probably put on a wash so I’ll be ready for when I’m on the road again.

2 What might you eat on a typical working day during…

Breakfast? Breakfast these days is wheat and goat cheese.

Lunch? Lunch can range from what I affectionately call “pasta pockets” to a rice cake, depending on what time breakfast was eaten.

Dinner? The choice of evening meal is dahl or Vietnamese summer rolls. Food with people is always appreciated and in the winter regular potluck get-togethers keep me going through the darker months.

3 Is nutrition important to you – do you take any supplements?

Good food is extremely important to me, from floor to plate. Touring doesn’t always make for the most nutritious meals, so I take vitamins to make sure my body gets what it needs.

4 Have you ever been on a diet? If yes, how did it happen?

I find the concept of dietary culture problematic. It has become linked to how we see ourselves and connected to self-esteem almost without a doubt. For the most part, I tend to live with what makes me feel good in every part of my life and if that means ice cream, then that’s what I’ll appreciate.

5 Weekend treat?

Pastries.

6 How do you stay physically and mentally fit?

Spend as much time as possible outdoors.

7 Best tip for everyday fitness?

To breathe.

8 Were you a fan of school sports/EPS or do you have a memory of that time that you would rather forget?

School sports weren’t my thing but I’m an undefeated swingball champion.

9 Teetotal or drink?

A drink once in a while, for medicinal purposes, of course. Whiskey, straight, without ice and without scotch.

10 Staircase or elevator?

Stairs – if I don’t have instruments to carry, of course. When I was in residence in Indonesia, I noticed that I always lead with my right foot when going up the stairs and, therefore, it is my strongest side. Sometimes, just for fun, I try to steer with my left.

11 What book are you currently reading? I always read about three books. Currently they are Thirty-Two Words for Field by Manchan Magan, Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde and Thin Place by Kerri ní Dochartaigh.

12 best Netflix?

Avatar: The Last Airbender. It is rooted in the concept of the four elements – earth, fire, water and air – in a realm where some people have the ability to bring these elements to life. The avatar can bring all four elements to life and is responsible for bringing peace and harmony to the world. I first watched it in 2015 and it’s always something I come back to for comfort and learning. Sometimes I stick with one episode and sit down with a notebook and a pen to glean little bits of wisdom from that character or the next.

13 The most surprising thing you learned about yourself during the pandemic?

I have become more sensitive to the world around me. Maybe we all have.

14 New skills or hobbies?

I’m learning the trumpet myself, which I really enjoy. I also started painting recently and it’s been a joy to do something completely for me.

15 How do you relax?

Swimming. I came to swimming quite late, having taught myself to swim as an adult at Queen’s University Physical Education Center. It was really one day at a time, slow progress, and some days I just sat in the sauna. I started in 2014 and in 2017 I started swimming in the sea. I still scream when I get to that first dip every time, but every time it’s worth it. Safety first though – I always have a tow float.

16 What are your objectives for 2023?

Learn and grow with the people around me as I bring Notes For A Maiden Warrior to new people and new places. I would also like to have a touring routine, because being on the road means I don’t always go to the sea or to yoga classes.

17 What time do you go to bed and do you think you get enough sleep?

Usually around 11pm, and I could always manage with more sleep. I also think we should adjust working hours in winter to allow for proper hibernation.

18 Biggest gripe?

Wickedness.

19 Have your priorities in life or outlook changed?

Living in compassion, kindness and community is important to me. Although they have always been priorities for me, they seem to me more important than ever.

20 Has the coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

Certainly. This life can be long but it can also be short. The reality of the coronavirus is that our overall health and wellbeing has been hit hard and I don’t think that has been reflected in our culture, our society, or the way we’re supposed to work. We need to incorporate the concept of our altered mortality, including levels of ability and disability resulting from long Covid, into conversations about how we structure our lives in the future.

:: Dani Larkin is a recipient of a new grant from the Tyrone Guthrie Center for Musicians and Composers working and living in Northern Ireland, taking up residence in Annaghmakerrig in 2023. She released her critically acclaimed debut album, Notes for a Maiden Warrior in 2021 and was nominated for the NI Music Award and Best Emerging Artist at the RTE Folk Awards.

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